A “Hellion” Finds Peace
Shanna used to be one tough cookie. At 14 years old, others already realized that she would be abusive to anyone, at anytime and about anything.
“She was a hellion,” said her Eckerd Counselor, Gail Wire, who was a new counselor at the time. “She made me cry more than any other camper ever has. She had outstanding verbal skills and could get into never-ending arguments.” Shanna had been kicked out of several other placements, and said, “I didn’t like authority of any kind and I was pretty physical about it.”
After an unsuccessful stay at the Florida Sheriff’s Youth Ranch, she came to Eckerd’s outdoor therapeutic service for girls in Floral City, Florida.
Her first impression of Eckerd was “I’m trapped out here. There’s no way to escape.”
She didn’t exactly warm up quickly to living in the woods either.
“I think I was one of the worst campers ever,” she said. “I was defiant, I would try to run away any time I could. I would get into physical altercations with everybody, and thought nothing of being frequently restrained.”
Like many youth at risk, Shanna did not realize what Eckerd had done for her immediately. “It wasn’t until years later that I realized what an important part Eckerd played in my life’s journey.”
When she left Eckerd she was still only 16. By 17 years old, she was modeling professionally in Miami and living on her own. She attended Florida State University, and then went to Colorado.
Today, she is one of the top breeders of Rottweiler dogs in the nation. Her last dog was a national champion. She does extensive traveling to dog shows all over the country.
Gail and Shanna stay in touch, and Shanna has come back to Eckerd occasionally to inspire other youth by telling her story.
“The impact counselors make may not be immediate, but it will certainly be felt down the line. Eckerd was an integral part of my journey to find myself,” said Shanna. “I really appreciate that part of my life even though I never thought I would at the time.”